Although children and animals may drive a lot of purchasing decisions, it really comes down to men and women. And much like political advertising, our industry's attitude towards the sexes has definitely changed over the years.
The Mad Men era showed us that men were men, and women pour the drinks. Indeed, in the past we have been treated to such sexist gems as:
KEEP HER WHERE SHE BELONGS.
A woman is pictured lying down next to a man's shoe.
THE MINI AUTOMATIC. FOR SIMPLE DRIVING.
A ditzy-looking blonde woman is behind the wheel of the car.
DON'T WORRY DARLING, YOU DIDN'T BURN THE BEER.
A woman is comforted by her husband after running dinner.
THE CHEF DOES EVERYTHING BUT COOK - THAT'S WHAT WIVES ARE FOR!
A couple next to a Kenwood Chef mixer.
YOU MEAN A WOMAN CAN OPEN IT?
An ad for Del Monte ketchup.
SPREAD YOUR LEGS!
Enjoy maximum comfort in the new Pontiac Star Chief.
BLOW IN HER FACE AND SHE'LL FOLLOW YOU ANYWHERE.
A well groomed man blows cigar smoke into a model's face.
CHRISTMAS MORNING SHE'LL BE HAPPIER WITH A HOOVER.
A woman lies down unwrapping a vacuum cleaner.
MOST MEN ASK "IS SHE PRETTY?" NOT "IS SHE CLEVER?"
An ad for Palmolive soap.
The list goes one. And yes, we have definitely changed our attitudes towards women in some respects, but now, the knockdowns and digs are much more subtle. But still happening. And still affecting women and girls everywhere.
The following article deals with the subject of women and advertising today:
A five-minute video has been circulating on the Internet featuring Jean Kilbourne, and it talks briefly, but powerfully, about advertising's very negative effects on women and girls. It's fair to say that advertising, marketing and the fashion industry has created a new type of woman that does not exist in the real world. This woman has no wrinkles, blemishes or scars. She has impossibly long legs, a waist so small it would make a Barbie doll jealous, and breasts and buttocks that are pert, gravity-defying miracles.
However, it's not just women that receive some rather sexist treatment. Men are also the target for ads that pray on clichés and stereotypes. Sadly, they do still work on many men. Here are two articles that go in-depth on the subject:
As a man, and a copywriter in the advertising industry, I sit on both sides of the aisle on this one. I am both the producer of advertising, and the consumer of products. I buy stuff that is aimed squarely at me, and I aim my advertisements squarely at people just like me, too. And over the years, I have noticed that the adverts seem to fall into several big buckets. There are obviously more than six categories, but most fit into them.
In part one of this two-part series, we looked at three different ways advertising panders to men. First, by really playing up the manliest things in life. Second, by bowing down to the inner child within us all. And third, to bombard us with images of attractive semi-naked women. Now we look at three more ways that advertising sells stuff to the weaker sex (trust me, we die earlier, we get more diseases, we are not stronger in many regards).